Whether you’re partial to Taco Tuesday, a classic Bolognese spaghetti, or grass-fed steaks (medium rare for us!), priority #1 is selecting a high quality beef source.
This means making sure that your red meat is not just grass-fed, but also:
- Raised using regenerative agriculture methods
- Never fed grains or any grain by-products
- Never treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics
Grass Roots is a collection of farmers throughout rural America who adhere to all of these standards and more. Come see how we farm.
The “grass-fed” label alone can mean that cattle were only briefly fed grass and then mostly ate soy or corn, which is not their natural diet and causes a wide range of health problems.
This is why we strongly encourage you to look for a meat producer who is transparent about how they raise animals, and implements at least a few (ideally, all) of the practices above.
Is grass-fed ground beef healthy?
Though technically considered a “beef product”, we view grass-fed ground beef as a cut of its own, due to the versatility, flavor, and health advantages it provides.
Here are the 4 main health benefits found in grass-fed ground beef:
1. Nutrient composition
Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and antioxidants like vitamin E.
Additionally, its higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids are significant. Most importantly, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been associated with numerous heart health benefits, including the reduction of inflammation, improved healthy blood vessel function, and the potential for significantly reducing the risk of heart disease.
2. Lower fat content
Grass-fed and grass-finished beef is usually leaner than beef sourced from cattle raised on conventional feedlots.
If you or a loved one is mindful of fat intake, you might want to consider grass-fed beef, which has lower total fat and lower levels of saturated fat content.
3. No added hormones or antibiotics
Grass-fed ranches that follow regenerative agriculture principles do not treat animals with added hormones or antibiotics.
For those of us who prefer to eat meat from animals that were raised naturally, without chemical additives, this is another compelling reason to transition to grass-fed beef.
4. Diet and lifestyle that mimics primal behavior
Rotational grazing is the benchmark practice on most regenerative farms. As the name suggests, this practice ensures that animals cycle through fresh pastures instead of grazing the same section of land repeatedly.
Rotational grazing allows grass-fed cows' natural behaviors, like freely grazing on grass and forage at their leisure, providing improved animal welfare conditions. Instead of eating grain and encountering all the associated digestive problems, grass-fed cattle tend to be more robust, healthier, and produce meat that’s widely reported to offer more nutritional benefits.
Grass-fed ground beef nutrition
Several factors influence the nutrient content of grass-fed ground beef. It’s important to consider the overall picture, including the animal's diet, breed, and farming practices.
Generally, a 4-ounce serving of grass-fed ground beef has the following nutrition profile:
~15-20 grams of fat (including saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and some polyunsaturated fat)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Grass-fed ground beef is also a rich source of B vitamins (B12, niacin, and riboflavin), zinc, selenium, iron, and phosphorus.
How many calories in grass-fed ground beef?
Fat content, serving size, and the beef processing method can significantly impact the amount of calories in grass-fed beef.
Having said that, we can generalize that with a fat content of 15-20%, grass-fed ground beef contains roughly 250-300 calories per 4-ounce (113-gram) serving.
How much protein in grass-fed ground beef?
Protein is an essential macronutrient that supports a number of bodily functions – everything from muscle growth to tissue repair to enzyme production, and more.
One 4-ounce serving (113 grams) of grass-fed ground beef contains approximately 20-25 grams of protein.
Considering that the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is roughly 55 grams per day for the average adult male and 45 grams per day for the average adult female, a single serving of grass-fed ground beef can provide a sizable portion of your daily protein intake.
However, keep in mind that the amount of protein each person needs is influenced by several factors like age, sex, physical activity level, and overall health. Consult your doctor to confirm your specific protein requirements.
Does grass-fed ground beef taste different?
Taste is subjective, so this is a tricky question to answer.
Anecdotally, many people describe grass-fed beef as more robust, earthy, or even slightly gamey, as compared to the flavor of conventionally-raised beef. This taste difference is largely attributed to the differences between the diet and lifestyle of the cattle.
Grass-fed and grass-finished cattle eat grass and natural forage, and nothing else. This natural and diverse diet, which mirrors their behavior in the wild, generally produces stark differences in the composition of their meat, including higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and other beneficial nutrients.
Conversely, conventional beef comes from cattle that are mostly raised on grain, which is an unnatural diet for a cow and therefore tends to produce less flavorful meat.
How to cook grass-fed ground beef
Despite all the ways that grass-fed ground beef differs from conventionally-raised ground beef, when it comes to cooking it, you already know exactly what to do.
Any ground meat recipe you love can be prepared in exactly the same way, using grass-fed ground beef. You could even swap in pasture-raised ground chicken, if you’d prefer an even leaner alternative.
Here are a few chef-created Grass Roots recipes to try at home, all featuring grass-fed ground beef:
This cozy and comforting Paleo chili recipe is filled with ground meat and a ton of veggies to keep you full and satisfied. It’s a Whole30-friendly chili and AIP-compliant, too, with no tomatoes and no beans.
For ground meats: I recommend bison, pork, or beef or a mix! (I used bison and pork).